Hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, Pallbearer is a doom-metal/stoner-rock band with a grand sound. Swapping through different members, Pallbearer has seen drummers come and go until finally sticking to a final entourage of Brett Campbell on vocals and guitar, Devin Holt on backing vocals and guitar, Mark Lierly on percussion, and Joseph D. Rowland on the bass guitar, along with some backing vocals thrown into the mix. The band relies heavily on their spacious sound and brute-force that can not only destroy, but also rebuild from the foundation up, to make one of the best records to come out of rock music.
Opening with a gentle acoustic guitar that is light on the ears, “Foreigner” gives off more of a laidback and relaxed introduction to the punishing sound that will follow. The instrumentation launches into more of sludge induced march with full bravado of guitars, drums, and rather cleans sounding vocalization that almost creates a constant contrasting nature within Sorrow and Extinction’s sound.
Rather than going straight in for the “kill,” Pallbearer would instead create more of a melodic centerpiece and suddenly leap into the spacious sound with lyrics that exclaim, “All along the dark and forbidden way, I can…I can feel their eyes and see their arcane thrones. So between my steps, I rest to gather up my strength, I must keep pushing onward.” Every track on Sorrow and Extinction manages an almost perfect segue into each following song, making the entire record feel as though it was completed in one single take.
More of a straightforward crush starts “Devoid Of Redemption,” allowing the instrumental to obtain a full, substantial sound. Each instrument present is able to make a significant impact; this is especially true during the break down where the drums from Zach Stine and lead guitar from Holt are able to work in tandem together, creating an aggressive build of energy that peaks with vocals from Campbell. Stine who is no longer with the band did exceptional work with his constant cymbal shifts where the ride and crash cymbals are used to provide the primary sound of his set.
There is also Campbell, who has consistent clean vocals throughout Sorrow and Extinction, but there are some cases in where his vocals use reverb and different effects to make his voice seem more projected and more filling than it actually is. Between the solos from Holt and Rowland, constant pounding of the percussion from Stine, and the wonderful sustaining notes of Campbell, Pallbearer joins together to make a dooming combination.
Graceful, powerful, and Earth-shattering, “The Legend” is able to sound more in style to the “Stoner Rock” label where the melodies present are much slower and the music itself feels weighted, but droning as well. Interestingly enough, there is a huge amount of complexity and the majority of instruments all play a significant part in making Pallbearer’s sound completely unified. Even as the members play entirely different sections of music, the band still works as a machine, making every track have an enormous amount of chemistry.
Relying heavily on the guitars and percussion to make most of the sound of Pallbearer, there is more of a focus on the lyrical aspect on “The Legend”, where vocalist Campbell can gracefully add, “No more to breathe the air, to feel the warmth of summer. As I start to slip away, I know my time has come.” The lyrical style is seemingly lugubrious and lingers on the subject of death or the everlasting end.
As stated before, Pallbearer is more of an instrumentally driven band on Sorrow and Extinction and the following track, “An Offering Of Grief” shines through on their capabilities as instrumentalists. Able to create seismic activity through the rumbling bass-lines and overall daunting sound, Pallbearer is also able to manage a real sense of beauty behind their music. When “An Offering Of Grief” begins to snowball and pick up, becoming more rushed than at the original start. Pallbearer finds themselves using more echoing vocalization and downright wicked guitar solos that almost seem underwhelming when played beside the crashing cymbals and the anchor of a rhythm section, that lock the band in an outstandingly bold fashion.
Finally, Sorrow and Extinction comes to “Given To The Grave,” peeling back the curtain with a sullen bass-line and beautiful harmonic vocals that sound like a church choir, there is an instant duality within the track. This is then the seguing motion that leads Pallbearer into the usual crashing fashion of overpowering, but still graceful instrumentation. Creating a perfect album to throw on and just strictly listen to with zero distraction. Sorrow and Extinction keeps such a fine line of excellence within the instrumentation and, even as the vocals make few appearances, the presence is still known well enough to stay substantial.
Sorrow and Extinction is a gorgeous album and through the constant stages of metamorphic like changes where the band can shift the tone in a matter of seconds only continues to display a new factor in Pallbearer’s music. “Given To The Grave” shows in complete fashion where the sound can consistently twist from peaceful to blasting in only a moment’s notice. From Earth-shattering, to fading out, Pallbearer makes sorrow and extinction seem amazingly less bleak than it originally can sound.